View Full Version : Top ten ways to make your vBulletin forum stand out.

06 Aug 2007, 13:45
By: Matt Price (vBulletin Skins, vBulletin Themes, vBulletin Styles, and vBulletin templates (http://www.CompletevB.com))

1. Research and discover your forum’s niche.
2. Target a specific member base and user groups.
3. Create or obtain a unique vBulletin theme.
4. Make a good first impression.
5. Link-build with similar content related forums.
6. Optimize your forum pages to be search engine friendly.
7. Add incentives for your members.
8. Create room for personalization and customization.
9. Promote it to anyone and everyone. Word of mouth is huge.
10. Start slow and work your way up. Don’t get in to deep.

1. Research and discover your niche.

Everybody has a certain passion and advanced knowledge in one category on the web or another. Search deep inside yourself to figure out what you think would succeed as a popular forum. However, your first thought is usually just like everyone else’s. Try to avoid the “John Doe” ideas that everyone and anyone has already thought of. Chances are there are a couple hundreds of forums on that topic already and it will be extremely difficult to compete with the previously established forums.

Aim your sights on a much smaller or hidden niche that has not yet been discovered or developed. (i.e. “vBulletin hacks”, rather than “Web design”) Targeting a more specific topic allows room for search engine placement potential and an easily target-able member base.

Once you find that industry niche, go at it 100%. I see hundreds of new forums fail and give up in the first few months because the owner doesn’t dedicate enough time to it. Put in the work and be patient, you will get results.

2. Target a specific member base and user groups.

Take the time to research other forums or websites that you think your potential members would hang out. A key to finding the perfect source is to search Google, MSN, Yahoo, and other search engines for the keywords you plan on targeting. These same relevant internet websites and forums provide the best source for advertisements and partnerships.

Since the big guy (Google) looks for relevant content between links you will be noticed faster. For example, don’t advertise a sports forum on a printer repair website. However, Google does seem to be caring less and less for relevancy and more for real content text links.

3. Create or obtain a unique vBulletin theme.

Every forum owner should have a goal that his/her site can stand out from the rest of the forums in his/her niche. One step to accomplishing your own identity and recognizable skin is through downloading pre-made vBulletin skins (for example: vBulletin Skins, vBulletin Themes, vBulletin Styles, and vBulletin templates (http://www.completevb.com)) and other resources. Having your own identity is a great way to make your members feel like they are apart of more than something than just another forum.

Creating an atmosphere where your members feel at home may be the most important secret to keeping your members active and your forum growing.

4. Make a good first impression.

Everyone knows the first impression could be the make or break it on keeping a member at first glance. Like I just talked about, custom and pre-made skins are just one way to making that first impression better. On top of downloading pre-made skins, forum owners can establish easy navigation, interesting content, and try to portray an active community. Keeping that first members impression positive could make the difference of a popular forum or a suffering one.

Do NOT try to trick your members by changing the refresh rate on the active member list. Most forum junkies nowadays know about this trick and will look down upon the forum. You definitely do not want to jeopardize your reputation over a few extra members. If your site is new, I suggest throwing a forum contest for the best poster. Not only will it increase activeness, but it will gain trust in your site.

5. Link-build with similar content related forums.

Anyone in the SEO world will tell you that link building is the key ingredient to search engine optimization, and they are correct. Building back links pointing toward your website or forum is essential for search engines to not only find your site, but rank it well.

This goes for all websites, not just forums. I have found that one way text links hold much more PR juice than a reciprocal link. There are more resources for site owners than just paying off other popular sites for one-way links. You can create articles and submit them to sites for free for quick and good publicity.

6. Optimize your forum pages to be search engine friendly.

However, vBulletin and other forum software’s make this a bit more difficult than a regular website. There are sites that have already come out with products to help all of the forum owners out there with SEO, such as vBulletin SEO Forums (http://www.vbseo.com). These sites do most of the simple things for you, and are worth the small investment.

Like I said before, I highly recommend finding related material on similar content websites and forums. Not only will the search engines appreciate it, but you will receive more targeted traffic than on a non-topic website.

7. Add incentives for your members.

We all know that forums can die down and lose interest during the year. Member incentives are very important for keeping your member base interested and active. Some incentives that you can do with your members are:
- Throw a forum-wide contest.
- Offer rewards for posters that accomplish a certain amount of posts.
- Establish a point/rating system.

8. Create room for personalization and customization.

I personally believe that all members should have their own chance to play with the styles that an admin has on their forum. Having a wide variety of styles has its’ perks and its downfalls. Some of the good things about offering a wide variety of vBulletin skins are that members get their own choice. Some members may want a graphically enhanced design while others are just looking for a quick loading skin. The biggest downfall I notice when administrators do this is the lack of identity that is established. One style on a forum is much more easily recognizable and brand able than a bunch of random skins thrown together.

There are plenty of skins you can download no matter what forum software you use. Free ones or paid ones alike, they will allow your forum to stand out from the rest of the competition and give your members something to remember.

9. Promote it to anyone and everyone. Word of mouth is huge.

Tell everyone about your new forum. Who knows! Somebody you tell may know tons of people in that niche that have been waiting for such a site to come out. I suggest joining relative-content forums and becoming an active member with a signature link. I do not suggest spamming other forums just to get your link out there because you will give off the completely wrong impression.

Word of mouth advertising is by far the best way of advertising. It is free and beneficial. It is hard to get people to talk about your new site so I would suggest doing something new, something fresh. Create something that will make people buzz.

10. Start slow and work your way up. Don’t get in to deep.

Everyone has heard of the statement, “Slow and steady wins the race.” With forum ownership, this statement couldn’t be truer. I suggest starting with a site you can handle and building it up slowly. At the same time, you need to take the initiative and take risks. Spend some cash on targeted advertising and try to sponsor sites relative to yours.

Please don’t dump tons of cash into your forum thinking it will grow right away and lose your entire investment. Make long term goals and stick to them. Spread out the advertising and promotion tactics so that you don’t leave all your eggs in one basket.

We all want a big forum that’s activeness is outstanding and the member base is continuously growing. Follow the simple steps I listed here and you should be on a great start to becoming a vBulletin administrator and entrepreneur.

Thanks and I hope this all helps! :)
Matt Price
vBulletin Skins, vBulletin Themes, vBulletin Styles, and vBulletin templates (http://www.completevb.com)

06 Aug 2007, 13:48
thanks for sharing .. moved to articles

06 Aug 2007, 14:24
This is a brilliant article, and pretty useful. I also swear you posted this on The Admin Zone.

06 Aug 2007, 14:45
Also on Admin Fusion.............but whatever, it is a really good article.

06 Aug 2007, 14:58
well written, thanks for this

06 Aug 2007, 15:28
We will be releasing more articles weekly. :)

07 Aug 2007, 02:54
thanx alot this was real helpful.

07 Aug 2007, 15:16
I am posting them on most of the forum sites so that nobody gets left out. :)

One will be released later tonight. :)

14 Aug 2007, 10:39
^I know what you mean. This was also on vBulletin.com as well.

Smiry Kin's
15 Aug 2007, 02:08
should do a special on vbstyles :P or make some more.. so you can lower prices.. lol

15 Aug 2007, 15:23
Lower prices will come from more purchases and more skins. We are loaded with custom work so we can afford to charge a bit more for the premades.

07 Feb 2010, 16:05
good things to know. Thanks poster

31 May 2010, 06:25
old article, but still a legend. i am now following your some steps

11 Aug 2010, 04:10
Very great article. Thanks for sharing.

28 Sep 2010, 15:35
Great article, actually have taken some of your advice and it has really helped.

01 Oct 2010, 14:24
thanks 4 nice article

27 Nov 2010, 23:49
that's so nice informative post keep it up

22 Jul 2012, 04:17
Con... unfortunately. If only his CSvc was as good as his writing.